After the previous day's marathon session with Bruce Springsteen out in Jersey, I gladly accepted a last minute pair of free tickets to check out the 30th Anniversary Kick Off event at St. Ann's Warehouse in DUMBO within walking distance of my apartment. Tonight's packed event featured Rosanne Cash, known in her own right as a country singer, but primarily (and perhaps somewhat dismissively) by me for being Johnny's daughter. Especially after seeing a taping of Elvis Costello's Spectacle show a few weeks ago during which country music was heavily discussed, I've felt rather deficient in my exposure to country music. I mean, I'm not a total wreck -- I do have some Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton and Townes van Zandt lurking on my iPod, but I have to admit that the closest I usually get is in the form of newer generation, alt-country-probably-more-rock-at-times types such as Ryan Adams, The Jayhawks, Neko Case, and, of course, my favorite, Wilco. Or when a band like The White Stripes cover a classic like "Jolene." Sheesh, I know -- I'm so lame!
So when I read up on Rosanne Cash and her latest album, The List, I became rather intrigued. As she has recounted, her very famous father "became alarmed that [she] appeared to lack a deep understanding of country music...[so he] gave her a list of the '100 Essential Country Songs' and told her that it was her education and she should learn them all." And from that list of 100 songs, she selected a dozen or so with which to cut an album, including some duets with some of the aforementioned (and my favorite) musicians, including Springsteen, Costello, Case and Jeff Tweedy of Wilco. Interesting.
Well, I knew not to expect any of those duets to be performed tonight with surprise guests since I think just about all are on tour, but I looked forward to furthering my country music education a little bit, and I believe I did. Rosanne Cash pulled together a nice collection of songs that drew upon some great songwriters. I really liked the duet "Sea Of Heartbreak," which on the album was sung with Springsteen, but tonight was very adeptly covered by her band mate and husband, John Leventhal. It reminded me quite a bit of the chemistry I witnessed between Gillian Welch and David Rawlings when I saw them perform at Town Hall a few years ago.
From the few songs with which I was familiar, I could tell Cash managed to find an engaging interpretation different from the original. However, I felt she was probably more in her element during the second half of the show while performing her own music, including gems like "Wheel" (wow, the guitar by Richard Hinman!) and "The World Unseen." At any rate, I am motivated to search for originals (particularly "Long Black Veil") and to compare them, as well as check out her stuff more.
All in all, a pleasantly mellow night that in many ways contrasted from seeing the Springsteen show the night before. Sometimes it's nice, as Shana remarked, not knowing a lot of a performer's repertoire before hearing it played so that you really pay attention to the lyrics and allow the stories to unfold. It was a tight roughly 1 hr. 40 min. set filled with just enough storytelling that kept the audience's attention, even my own despite the less than humane sweaty conditions up in the last row of the venue. Ceiling fans with no windows just don't cut it as a primary air circulation system, ya dig?
1. I'm Movin' On (Hank Snow)
2. Miss the Mississippi and You (William Heagney)
3. She's Got You (Hank Cochran)
4. 500 Miles (Hedy West)
5. Heartaches by the Number (Harlan Howard)
6. Sea of Heartbreak (Hal David & Paul Hampton)
7. Bury Me Under the Weeping Willow (A.P. Carter)
8. Girl from the North Country (Bob Dylan)
9. Long Black Veil (Danny Dill & Marijohn Wilkin)
10. Seven Year Ache (RC)
11. Radio Operator (RC)
12. Blue Moon with Heartache (RC)
13. Wheel (RC)
14. The World Unseen (RC)
15. Ode To Billy Joe (Bobby Gentry)
16. Take These Chains from My Heart (Hy Heath & Fred Rose)
17. Motherless Children (Traditional)
18. Satisfied Mind (J.H. "Red" Hayes & Jack Rhodes)
19. Tennessee Flat Top Box (RC)
20. Sweet Memories (Mickey Newbury)